Review: Mausam – Weather warning

Director: Pankaj Kapur
Cast: Shahid Kapur, Sonam Kapoor
Rating: **
Pankaj Kapur is considered to be one of the finest actors of his generation. And he is. But does that skill and excellence translate when he pens a script and steps behind the camera? Sadly not.
Kapur’s directorial debut, Mausam, shows immense promise as it unveils a small and friendly town in Punjab where teenager Harry (Shahid Kapoor) is awaiting an acceptance letter into the Air Force. When a pretty young girl moves in with her aunt, Harry falls head over heels in love with the enigmatic Aayat (Sonam Kapoor). An innocent love story unfolds, the courtship involving handwritten notes, a pair of stained binoculars, spying on each other from rooftops.
It is December 1992, and as the Babri Masjid is demolished, Aayat and Harry are separated. As the film journeys over a decade, Kapur shows how world events affect this couple who come close to being bonded together forever once more in 1999. But by then Harry is an Air Force pilot and must answer the call of duty over the call to dinner to meet Aayat’s family.
The just under three-hour long movie comes to a close in 2002 in Ahmedabad, amidst burning buildings, meaningless rioting and one of the most incomprehensible climax scenes imaginable. Therein lies one of the biggest failings of Mausam – the writing, followed by an inability to create drama and keep the audience rooting for Harry and Aayat. The styling and setting does not match the dates – even in the 2000s, Aayat posts letters to Harry who does not seem to have a cell phone.
While the supporting actors are largely competent and credible, the same cannot be said for Sonam and Shahid. They embrace their teenage avatars with zeal but their performances do not mature with their maturing characters. Sonam looks lovely but when it comes to the dramatic she clearly lacks the skills. Shahid’s Harry mostly stands around looking pensive but does not show the gutsiness or ingenuity of a member of the Forces when it comes to something like finding his estranged love.
Thanks to Binod Pradhan’s cinematography, Mausam looks rich. Unfortunately, while the films starts with clear skies and a light breeze, we soon begin to feel a drizzle with dark clouds gathering and end soaked in a deluge of disappointment.